Heading north to Santander…. .

It’s been a long time coming this blog post.  Not because it’s particularly interesting but because we haven’t picked up any wifi for what seems like ages.  Today we have finally got some wifi, in a Wetherspoons in Plymouth in the UK no less, so I can finally update the blog at the end of our first year of living our new life whilst supping my first pint of real ale from the nearby brewery at Salcombe.

Here was our last week or so:

The journey north couldn’t be put off for any longer as we needed to be in Santander for our ferry to Plymouth on 12th April.  In keeping with our slow travel methods of the last year we allocated a week or so for the 600 mile trip.  Our plan was to drive just two to two and a half hours in the mornings which would then give us time to stop and explore some key places on the way.

Ubeda, which was recommended to us and we had missed on our drive over to Cordoba in October last year, was our first stop.  There is a very good free aire there which looked pretty new and was only a ten minute stroll into the old town.  And what a lovely old town it was.


Built on an escarpment overlooking the valley of the Guadalquivir, Ubeda packs in more historic buildings than many much larger towns and cities and has some beautiful Plazas. Our guide book describes it as a showcase of Renaissance magnificence which is no doubt why it is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.


Following the A4 northwards took us into the Castilla-La Mancha region made famous by Cervantes tales of Don Quixote de La Mancha.  We stopped for the night at the small village of Puerto Lapice which had a free aire on its outskirts.

Puerto Lapice.

The tiny village has a small museum dedicated to Don Quixote which took us ten minutes to go round followed by ten minutes being funnelled through the extensive shop selling anything and everything relating to Don Quixote.  They were trying very hard to push the Don Quixote theme I think!

As the village provides a free aire it would be rude not to support it!

We stopped off the next morning at Consuegra to have a gander at the eleven restored windmills on the ridge above the town before driving on to Toledo for our nights stop.

Seven of the eleven restored windmills in Consuegra.

Toledo, another UNESCO site, which sits on a rocky mound at a bend in the river Tagus, definitely has curb appeal as you approach it from the east side as we did.  It is really quite a sight and very compact.

Toledo taken from our walk in along the river.

There is an aire in a car park just outside the old town but it was rammed with cars and vans so we opted to stay at the campsite which was a little further away from the town but was in a beautiful setting and nice and quiet.

View of Toledo on our approach from the east.

There was a bus service from outside the campsite to get into the old town but, after consulting the Maps.Me app, we discovered a path that took us, along the river, all around the outside of the town with some fantastic views along the way.

If you look carefully you can see someone dangling from a zip wire just above the arch of the bridge.

The old town is a maze of narrow streets which we found hard to get our bearings in but it’s not very big so it didn’t really matter that we had to double back on ourselves a few times.  I think it is probably the most touristy place we have been to so far or it may be it just felt like that as it is so compact.  After an hour or so of dodging speeding cars coming along the narrow streets and weaving around school groups we made our way back to the campsite.

Crowded narrow streets of Toledo.

We had planned to stay two nights in Toledo but felt a bit overwhelmed with the crowds so we hit the road the next morning heading for Ávila.

Part of the 2km walls around Avila.

Ávila old town is completely surrounded by 2km of 11th Century walls, built by Alfonso VI, when he captured the town from the Moors in 1090. Constructed by the Muslim prisoners, the walls took nine years to complete. It’s €5 to walk the top of the walls so we made do with walking them at the bottom which cost us €4 in ice creams instead.

Next up was Segovia which didn’t disappoint.  It was a twenty minute walk into the town from the free aire by following the aqueduct.   Thought to have been constructed by the Romans during the 1st Century AD, the water was transported underground from the mountains for 13km before flowing into the aqueduct.

Segovia’s aqueduct.

It runs for over 700m reaching a height of 28.5m above the Plaza de Diaz Sanz where it is supported by single and double arches.

It’s impressive.

It was definitely worth seeing there is no doubt.  The Alcazar in Segovia is rumoured to be the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at Disney World and stands on a rocky promontory above the river.

View of Segovia’s Alcazar from our walk along the river.

There’s a lovely walk which drops down to the river below the town giving excellent views of the Alcazar from all sides.

Feeling we had had enough of sightseeing after a busy few days we had a peruse around a large Carrefour at our next stop in Palencia.  Tim looking at tablets, me looking in the homewear department!  I found some beach mats that would be ideal for seat covers to replace the outdoor towels, which were supposed to be temporary covers, but have been in place for nearly ten months.   At €3 each they were a bargain.  They do have a potential migraine inducing stripe to them so Tim may well have to wear dark glasses inside from now on.  Oh lordy though, was I pleased as Ollie was starting to look like a student bed-sit!

So having had an action packed week driving across Spain from south to north we decided to stop at an aire that had been recommended to us not far from Santander.  This aire was free but we would have gladly paid for it as it has an added attraction in that it is situated directly outside a safari park.

A minutes walk from the aire we were able to while away an hour or two watching the elephants do their thing which was a lovely end to our week.

An added bonus to the aire at the Caberceno Nature Park near Santander.
There’s a  newly installed cable car that goes around the park (you can just see one of the cable cars to the right of the picture).
‘Teen’ elephants playing 🙂

So that’s it, our first year on the road is now complete.  We are back in the UK for the next few weeks to see family and friends and to sort some things out at home before turning around again to head for Germany for Season 2!